December 10, 2011

Ponder Your Stories - Bonnie Way

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short story about the weekend I spent in Canberra during my summer in Australia.  It was an interesting weekend involving a new traveling companion, meeting a guy who promptly fell head over heels in love with me, and almost getting stranded downtown at midnight before a bus driver offered to give us a ride back to the hostel at the end of his regular route.  Canberra stands out among my memories of Australia, but when my workshop group read my submission, they asked, "What's the story?"

All the events that I mentioned are interesting and even amusing, but they aren't enough for a story in themselves.  I realized that just relating those events aren't enough.  I also had to think deeply about what those events meant to me—why exactly those memories stand out in my mind, even six years after the event.  And then, when I could put into words those abstract feelings about the weekend, I had to somehow convey them to my reader and show exactly how that weekend changed me.

As I thought about that experience, a verse from Luke's version of the Christmas story popped into my head.  After everything that happens to Mary and Joseph—the trip to Bethlehem, the birth in a stable, the shepherd's arrival, the wise men's gifts—Luke tells us, "Mary committed these to memory and considered them carefully" (Luke 2:19 CEB).  At the time they happened, they were probably exciting and interesting events.  But she'd have to wait until Jesus grew up and had completed his ministry and work here on earth to really understand all the significance.

Some stories need time to grow before we can really see their effects.  As writers, we need to not only remember and retell stories from our lives, but to also consider them carefully to ensure that we're really capturing the meaning of the story for our readers.  That might mean waiting to tell a story until the right time—until we can truly understand it ourselves.  That might mean multiple rewrites as we dig deeper into our memories and what they mean.  As Christian writers, we can ask God for guidance as we write, that he will help us to resurrect these memories and to share them with those who need to hear them.
"I pray that God will allow me to speak knowledgeably and to ponder well what God has taught me. God himself is the guide even of Wisdom, and God keeps those who already possess wisdom on the right course." (Wisdom 7:15 CEB)

~ © Bonnie Way (


  1. Digging deep, pondering, taking time to reflect ... all of these come to mind after reading your post.

  2. Bonnie, I love your take on Mary's ponderings. You are so right--the significance many of the events and happenings in our lives are also perceivable only in hindsight. (Which is why it's great to be a writer, whose job description includes sorting these things out!)

  3. The spark of significance sometimes needs to be hoarded and nourished until it can be parsed and understood. May the Lord break this bread in us to share with the multitudes!

    I really appreciate this insight! there is more in us than we can fathom all at once at any given time.


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